For a while, Denzel Ward was carrying the flag for Purdue’s 2014 recruiting class. The standout tackle was gung ho about the Boilermakers’ future, letting it be known with seemingly every tweet.
But now, Ward has been quiet, even distancing himself from Purdue. At the same time, four-star linebacker Drue Tranquill is exploring an offer from Notre Dame.
The future of Purdue’s 2014 class remains uncertain.
Maybe the only person who could top the excitement Ward once expressed in Purdue’s future is three-star center commit Kirk Barron, who remains ‘100-percent committed’ to be a Boilermaker. Barron remains optimistic both Ward and Tranquill will keep their commitments to Purdue.
“They’re really going to stay, to be honest with you,” Barron said. “They’re committed. If they really were going to look at another school, they’d have decommitted by now. That’s my personal take on the thing. But when it comes to the [relationships with the] coaches, they’re going to stay committed. We’re starting something special and we’re going to finish strong here.”
Ward, who was once committed to Michigan, is exploring offers from Florida and UCLA in order to evaluate whether Purdue is indeed the best fit for him. Tranquill is looking at an offer from Notre Dame, which came barely a week after his public commitment to Purdue.
Quarterback commit David Blough—who also is ‘100-percent committed’ to Purdue, even as his name continues to rise—admits he was concerned upon learning Tranquill and Ward were looking at other options.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Blough said. “It will all work out.”
Before Ward began looking at other options, he spoke frequently with Barron, Blough and the rest of the class. Now, the communication about the Boilermakers’ future doesn’t happen as often. Blough still speaks with Ward regularly, but rarely about recruiting.
“He doesn’t really talk about it,” Blough said of Ward. “He’s a reserved dude when it comes to that kind of stuff.”
Barron and Ward used to communicate more frequently, especially on Twitter, where the two helped build excitement for the class. Ward even created a Twitter account for the group, @Boilermakers14, which hasn’t tweeted since August 14—around the time when Ward began receiving other interest in his recruitment.
While Barron and Ward aren’t communicating as frequently, the future Purdue center stays in contact with the fellow in-state commit, Tranquill. However, Barron can relate to what both are going through in their new recruitments.
“I did the same thing—being an Ohio commit and coming to Purdue,” said Barron. “ … They want to make sure [Purdue] is the best possible place for their families.”
Barron remains a lead recruiter for Purdue’s class, pushing for prospects like Renell Wren, Lukayus McNeil and Jacob Applefield. He remains optimistic Ward and Tranquill will stay put, but he feels the class will continue to build—with or without two of its top additions.
“Even if those guys decommit—which I don’t think they will, to be honest with you—we have guys who are high up on the board and are just as good,” said Barron.
Purdue’s class ranks 12th in the Big Ten and 70th overall, but largely due to having just eight members in the class. With some big new additions—which could be coming soon—it will rise up the rankings. Without Ward and Tranquill, it will tumble downward.
“I hope we can keep this class together and make history,” Blough said. “I believe it’s possible with the guys we have going up there. And it’s still early.”